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Oshoek border ends 24-hour operation

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MBABANE – The 24-hour operation of the Oshoek/Ngwenya border post came to a stop last night, exactly one month after the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

The border began operating non-stop on May 26, 2010 to accommodate people who would be moving between Swaziland and South Africa during the global soccer spectacle, which ended on July11, 2010.

Themba Mndebele, the Border Control Operations Coordinating Committee (BCOCC) Port Coordinator yesterday confirmed that the arrangement had come to an end.

"Our understanding of the deadline is that the extended operation hours end on August 10, 2010. This means that today (yesterday) we will operate the whole night but from the August 11, 2010 will go back to normal operating hours of 7am to 10pm," Mndebele explained.

He said their Swaziland counterparts were aware of the elapse of the arrangement as they have always been part of discussions in this regard.

"We always have joint planning sessions and we communicated this to the Swaziland office including the 2010 office as well as the SA High Commission," Mndebele said.

Asked if there were any plans to have the border gate permanently operate on a 24-hour basis, he said that decision lay squarely with those at the highest structural level.

"The extension has been a temporary arrangement but there are discussions for permanent 24 hour operation of the border. But that is now at the highest structural level of discussion. There have been bilateral discussions at that level," Mndebele said.

The Port Coordinator said they had been able to cope with the workload that came with the 24-hour operation by having additional staff.

"We reinforced staff and there was no congestion. We were very effective. The extra staff will now return to their usual work stations as operation hours are back to normal, there will be no extra shifts," Mndebele said.

Efforts to get comment from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration Department and Customs Department were unsuccessful as those in authority were either unavailable or held up in meetings.




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